Richmond, Virginia | Where to Live Next | Smithsonian
Current Issue
July / August 2014  magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

The city hosts a number of annual festivals and has its own ballet and symphony. (Courtesy Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia

smithsonian.com

Population: 192,913 (2006 estimate)
Percentage of retirees: 14.3% in 2006
Cost of living index: Below average
Public libraries: 9
Public transportation: Greater Richmond Transit Authority provides buses in the city and vicinity. Amtrak serves two stations in Richmond.
Access to airports: Richmond International Airport is located about 5 miles from the city.
Tax breaks: In Virginia, taxpayers age 65 and older are eligible for a deduction of $12,000, subject to income limitations. Pension income received while a Virginia resident is taxable by Virginia, even though it may have been received from another state.
Number of museums: 26
Number of cinemas: 11
Cultural Highlights: Rich in museums, gardens, and performance venues.
Access to Healthcare: Good, with a strong university medical school.
Climate: Moderate winters, hot humid summers, pleasant springs and falls.
Annual precipitation: 42.2 inches
Nearby Attractions: Washington, D.C., the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains, and Virginia Beach all within a 2 hours' drive.
In the Know: "After some 20 years of living in Richmond off and on, my wife, Barb, and I decided to do one new thing each month we'd never done before, and we've been astounded at the cultural opportunities that have presented themselves. We discovered such pleasures as a fine Virginia Opera company, a lively program series at the University of Richmond's beautiful and intimate Modlin Center for the Arts and, best of all, a raft of activities at the Virginia Historical Society seemingly geared directly to our older boomer age group."
-Randy Fitzgerald, blogger and former Richmond-Times Dispatch columnist

From This Story

Once the capital of the Confederacy, Virginia's gracious old capital held on to its appeal as the cultural heart of the South long after the Civil War was over. In recent decades it has become increasingly forward-looking, while retaining many of its Old South charms. If you like history, gardens, museums and music, this city has a lot to offer.

Broad avenues and long-established residential streets trace the city's development, from its colonial roots to its antebellum heyday and Victorian renaissance to its 20th-century growth. Sadly, the late 20th-century saw the virtual abandonment of the downtown area, but it's making a comeback. Old buildings are being refurbished as major performance venues, hotels and condominiums. The impressive Library of Virginia rises amid all this, and a fistful of historical museums and buildings are concentrated in a few blocks of downtown. Overlooking all of it is the small but elegantly domed Virginia state capitol, a tribute to Thomas Jefferson's love of the classical.

A warehouse district along the James River, the Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom neighborhoods have morphed into a restaurant and condo area, with museums and a vibrant farmers market (housed in the old train depot) nearby. A canal walk now follows the flood-controlled James about a mile upriver from here. On the west side of downtown, the Fan, a multiblock area of old Victorian townhouses and manses, is clustered around Virginia Commonwealth University. The university's strength is the arts, so all kinds of performances and visual offerings are ongoing. The Fan melds into the museum district, anchored by the sprawling Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, with a number of world class collections.

Richmond's well-heeled West End offers more museums, historic sites, and some public gardens. Gardenlike in its landscaped lakes and hills is the campus of the University of Richmond, also in this area. The city hosts a number of annual festivals and has its own ballet and symphony. It's also a venue for the well-respected Virginia Opera.

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus